EUROPE: Spirits labelling changes become law
The new rules covering spirits in the European Union have come into effect this week, with the change being described by one trade body as "a good compromise".
Within the legislation, endorsed by EU nations this week, is a ruling that states that vodka not made from non-traditional ingredients - such as grapes - is permitted, although the ingredients must be clearly labelled on the bottle.
In June, MEPs from traditional vodka-producing member states such as Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Sweden pushed for a ban on marketing vodka made from non-traditional agreements, but this was rejected.
"After what has been a lengthy and sometimes emotional debate, a good compromise has been reached on how best to both safeguard current traditional practices and ensure appropriate scope for innovation," the European Spirits Organisation - CEPS said today (18 December).
Jamie Fortescue, director general at CEPS, added: "We are very happy that the new regulation on EU spirit definitions has been adopted and that so many of the aspects called for by the industry back in 2000 have been reflected in the final text.
"We now look forward to the new regulation's implementation, which will help maintain the worldwide reputation for quality which EU spirit drinks enjoy and ensure that the EU remains the world's leading spirits producer."
The regulations also allow for the establishment of improved definitions for some spirits such as whisk(e)y, brandy and rum, as well as better protection for EU spirit drinks which currently hold geographical indications, via the application of the principles of the Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement.
A spokesperson for the Scotch Whisky Association also welcomed the move. "Improved EU protection for the traditional way of making whisky is a significant step forward," he said. "Today's agreement by Member States will make it easier to protect Scotch Whisky from unfair practices, supporting the industry's international competitiveness."
Late last month, Mariann Fischer Boel, the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, said that trying to find a compromise between the different vodka camps had been "like trying to hold on to two horses, running in opposite directions".
At the time, Fischer Boel warned: "Discussion about the content of the spirit drink regulation is now over - the regulation has been essentially agreed and will soon be passed into law, and there's no mandate to change it again in the foreseeable future. There must be no nit-picking. The rules must be respected by everyone.
"The Commission will make sure this happens. I give you my word on this."
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